Death by Design is a wonderful new comedy, peopled with vivid, fascinating characters. It merges wit, sophistication and even pratfalls into a medley of humor and fun. Playwright Rob Urbinati must have had as much fun writing this comedy as the audience has in savoring it. - Houston Press
Rob Urbinati’s Death by Design is a wildly funny comedy that’s exquisitely crafted in the style of British playwright Noel Coward with a major added fillip: an Agatha Christie-style whodunit murder mystery.
The protagonists in Death by Design comprise a sophisticated and arrogant playwright and his air-headed actress wife. Their latest play has just been panned by the London critics, and the pair retreat to their country estate to lick their wounds and continue their psychological warfare. They’re quickly joined by a host of guests, some invited, some not. Soon one of the guests lies lifeless on a sofa. All the characters have a motive for murder, and the mystery is solved by an impudent, sharp-tongued housemaid in cahoots with a young libertine chauffeur.
I’m a big fan of Noel Coward, England’s greatest comic playwright of the 20th century. Death by Design is intentionally written in Coward’s style, complete with interesting, over-drawn characters, brilliant comic repartee and wonderfully incisive social commentary. Plus there’s the Agatha Christie element: a country estate full of mysterious guests and isolated by a snipped telephone wire.
Death by Design is definitely a major must-see. - The Forecaster
Edward and Sorel Bennett have had yet another row, in the fallout of their latest London opening, and have chased each other to their country house, to the irritated surprise of their maid and chauffeur. They proceed to torment each other so creatively and with such schizophrenic relish that one might wonder whether Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? had been added into the mash-up cocktail. The lovebirds are soon joined by a cacophony of guests with interestingly constellated mutual resentments, including conservative politician Walter Pearce, leftist radical Eric, and bohemian artist/dancer Victoria Van Roth. By the time there's a body to contend with, everyone in residence has expressed multiple murderous motives.